The story “The Tell-tale heart” by Edgar Allan Poe is about a man (The storyteller) who kills an old man. He wants to keep his actions a secret. But even after the death of an old man, the storyteller heard the beating of the old man’s heart. The noise from the dead man’s heart becomes so loud that the he cannot tolerate it. He wants the noise to stop. He tells the police his secret – that he killed the old man.
The story teller lives in a house with an old man. The old man has a pale, blue eye that is like the eye of a bird. He hates his eye, so he decides to kill the old man to get rid of the eye. Every night at midnight he went very quietly to the old man’s room. He opened the old man’s door slowly and quietly put his head inside the room. And then he would very quietly turn on the lamp. He did the same thing for 7 nights, but the old man’s eye was always closed. He wanted to get rid of the eye, but he couldn’t kill the old man if he couldn’t see the eye. In the morning he acted normally so that the old man wouldn’t know that he wanted to kill him.
On the eighth night at midnight, he did the same thing. But this time when he turned on the lamp he made a sound and the old man woke up. The old man sat up in his bed and asked who was there. He stood quietly for an hour. The old man did not go back to sleep. The old man was very afraid. He knew someone was in his room. Then he turned on the lamp and saw the old man’s eye. He became angry when he looked at it. He could hear everything, so he could hear the beating of the old man’s heart. The sound made him feel even more angry. The sound become louder and quicker. The story- teller became worried that the neighbors would hear the noise made by the old man’s heart. He made the lamp light bright and screamed. The old man also shouted. He threw the old man on the floor and put the heavy bed on top of him. The sound of the heart stopped, so he knew the old man was dead. Then the he cut the body into pieces and hid them under the wooden floor. At the early morning, the police came to his house as the neighbors told the police that they had heard a yell come from the house. The police wanted to look inside of the house to see if something bad had happened.
He told the police that the old man was staying in the country and was not at home. He said that he had yelled of a bad dream. The police searched the house but didn’t find anything. Then they all sat in the old man’s room and talked. He sat on the floor above where he had hidden the old man’s body. The police didn’t think anything bad had happened. They just sat and talked. He began to hear the dead man’s heart. The sound got louder and really bothered him.
Important questions and answers:
a) Justify the title “The Tell-Tale Heart”.
“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a psychological story. The meaning of the title is the kind of heart which reveals the secret or hidden truth. Here, the narrator reports to his own crime to the police officers. He cannot hide his crime. So, the boy confesses his crime. He tells all the reality to the police officers. He cannot hide his guilt. In this sense, the narrator’s heart is tell-tell heart.
d) Would you call the narrator mad? Give reasons for your answer.
In this psychological story, the narrator kills an old man and buried him. He was abnormal after killing the old man. He felt as if the heartbeat of the dead body is making much noise. It is not possible that the dead man’s heart beats. In reality, it was his watch tickling. He feels like the policemen are mocking him and his crime when they were smiling by looking at his face. SHe lost his cleverless and finally confesses his crime to the police officers without any compulsion. These all activities shows that he is really mad.